09 May 2022

A Blackguard's Background, Meet Rilganor

In the coming weeks or months, I'll be starting to play in a new D&D campaign ran by my brother-in-law. As per usual, I decided to delve into his world, craft a character, and write some fiction for them. Outlined below is the backstory for my character, Rilganor the Blackguard, a minotaur Oathbreaker paladin.

As you read the story, remember the best practices of creating a compelling player character:

  1. Make them part of the world.
  2. Give them a reason to be there.
  3. Craft them a fatal flaw.
  4. Grant them a dangerous secret.
  5. Connect them to at least one other party member.

Death of Duty

“Every last one must be slain. See to it quickly. Our duty demands it.”

Rilganor stared on in disbelief. The Just, they called him. The Lawbringer. The Peaceseeker. He was the High Templar of the Righteous Horns for a reason, and Rilganor couldn’t deny his demand.

But he could question it.

“Why now? After all this time? Could we not give them a warning, a chance to—”

“Silence, templar.”

Deep silence pervaded the stone chamber. Moments passed by and the High Templar’s face remained as cold and unchanging as the ground. Then, a flash of darkness.

“Question our divine duty again, and lose your tongue.”

Rilganor quickly turned to avoid the High Templar’s dark gaze. Lose my tongue? He thought. Niphin’s exile, Teldrak’s imprisonment, and now this? Violence against his fellow templars? Violence against followers of a gentle god?

He’d paused too long, heard the squeak of the High Templar’s armor and the echo of his hoof on the stone floor. The tip of a sword tapped his neck.

“Thinking? Thinking!?” The High Templar paused, his voice calmed. “Of what? You dare think of betraying your duty, the commands of your High Templar? Others have done so and been dealt with, but you’ve not learned it seems. Perhaps a greater punishment is a needed. A greater example made. A pity, the others, templars with less potential have followed their duty in recent weeks, but you? Unable to accept what our oath—”

An unseeable wave blasted through the chamber, knocked Rilganor and the High Templar off their hooves, and cracked the stone beneath them, destroyed the copper chalice on the nearby altar. Heat accompanied the blast and Rilganor’s heart grew warm briefly. Then, the High Templar rushed past him.

Bellows sounded from the temple’s antechamber, alongside the readying of weapons. Rilganor attempted to get up, but couldn’t; some force rendered him incapable. He laid prone on the cold stone. Then, the High Templar’s voice, layered with unusual hatred and fear:

“Arzmoah, oh holy bringer of justice, so you’ve finally arrived. Witness what I twisted!” A mighty roar ringed to Rilganor’s ears, followed by the deafening sound of battle. Steel on steel. Spine-chilling cries. Hissing flames. Then, the sickening smell of burnt flesh and fur. Finally, silence and a growing heat.

Soon, a creature of radiant beauty and wickedness floated above Rilganor, its golden armor spattered with fresh blood, its eyes mere orbs of silver. It lifted a gloved finger on its left-hand, said:

“Rise.” Unwillingly, Rilganor stood. “Come.” The creature turned and moved to the antechamber. Rilganor followed, unable to control himself, close his eyes.

Carnage laid before him. Templars sliced in two; templars unrecognizably seared; the High Templar in the room’s center, impaled on a massive spear of pure light—convulsing quietly. With a flick of his gold-covered hand, the floating creature forced the High Templar’s mouth and eyes agape. Black, stained light spewed forth, took shape. A great fiend formed before Rilganor and the radiant creature, skin warted and poison-green. Chained light encircled the fiend, allowed minimal movement. It cackled.

“Arzmoah, so you’ve discovered me! But at what cost? Dozens?” The fiend motioned a clawed hand around the bloody chamber. “Hundreds? Thousands?” Both arms swept into the air and the fiend cackled again. “Does your divine code permit such atrocities to capture the foul?” It contorted its mouth, squeezed out a biting whisper. “Arzmoah, oh we’re the same. Just…different—”

“The uncorrupted walks free, the corrupted pay, and the corruptor repents.” The radiant creature interrupted.

Still unable to move, Rilganor struggled and his mind darkened. The corrupted pay? With their lives? He gazed around again at the carnage: heads removed from bodies, silhouettes scorched into stone. This…this creature. This is what we pay tribute to, give our lives to, and it repays us with…with no mercy?

The fiend still cackling, the celestial grabbed its chain of light, turned to Rilganor. 

“Free.” 

With that word, Rilganor collapsed to the ground, eyes unable to look away from the scene before him. He tried to rise, to bellow at the celestial and demand true justice, to help save his fellow templars, but before he could take any action, the celestial spoke a phrase of pure serenity and disappeared with the fiend.

Rilganor froze, heard the harsh cold wind outside, smelled the radiant death around him, felt the heat leave the temple…

And knew he could not upkeep his oath.

*** Three decades later ***

Home, the name I give to the land who gave me nothing but blood and cold enough to freeze it. 

Doesn’t matter, I’m back, back home after all these years. Three, right? No, no, no, three decades! That’s right, and if the last few months here’ve been any indication, the White Wastes are still giving out the same old stuff: blood and ice.

Good. I need it.

But that’s not all I’m searching for. 

They’re both here, or that’s what some smart folk in Avalone told me. Both somewhere here, hopefully in Kragloft or the land around it. With my luck though? They’re probably out in the Suiski Peaks or worse: roaming with the Bellows again. The Bellows. Why didn’t that damned fiend Marog go after all of them instead? Why the Righteous Horns?

Ugh, doesn’t matter. I’m—we’re all that’s left. They know something. And I need to know it too, before everything here gets too complicated. Again, just my luck: I arrive from the south and it comes with me. Lucky me. Hrff—lucky everyone here. The White Wastes could surely use some help from the southron realms.

Well, I think I’ll go watch the performing-wizard again. She was impressive. Tiny, but impressive. Maybe she’ll draw in some folk who can help me find Niphin and Teldrak.

Wouldn’t want to bash another innocent head in.

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